Do you feel overwhelmed by the growing piles of paperwork in your home, and not having enough time to deal with it all?
Does it feel harder and harder to get through all your paper-related tasks, especially when you have so many other things on your plate?
If you are sick and tired of paper clutter taking over your home, you need some effective strategies for dealing with the clutter once and for all. The 5 simple tricks in this post will help put you back in control of your paperwork, and help you feel more calm and in control -- who doesn't want that!
1 | KNOW WHAT TO KEEP & WHAT TO GET RID OF
Knowing which paperwork is safe to get rid of, and exactly what you should be keeping - either for the short term in a reference system, or long term in a filing system - is key to taming the paper clutter.
You should be doing a daily sort of incoming paper to get rid of as much as possible. This would include anything expired, outdated, no longer relevant or useful, unnecessary… you can easily get rid of a lot more papers than you actually need by changing your habits and shifting your mindset.
If your tendency is to hold onto #allthepapers that enter your home ‘just in case’, or because you’re not sure what is safe to get rid of, then your home will be filled with a lot of unnecessary paper clutter.
(P.S. Have you taken the 'Paper Personality' Quiz yet? Take it here! >>)
If you’re not sure about whether or not you should be keeping a particular document, ask yourself the following questions…
- Will I ever need to reference it again?
- Could I find the information online?
- Will I need it for tax purposes?
- Is there a specific circumstance when the information would be useful again?
- Is it actually worth my time to file the paper and have to deal with it again later?
My new program Making Your Paper Work is the complete A-Z plan for getting your paperwork organised and under control, by creating effective systems that allow you to be more productive, and achieve a greater sense of calm and order in your home.
2 | A SORT AND STORE SYSTEM
One way that paper clutter can build up in a major way is if you don’t have a specific spot for where you sort and store your ‘active’ paperwork.
Active paperwork refers to papers you receive on a daily basis that you need to take a specific action on i.e. make a phone call, pay a bill, fill out a form, write an email, RSVP, make an order etc.
Your daily sort should include getting rid of as many unnecessary papers as possible, but you also need to sort the papers you need to take action on.
Some papers only require a quick action, so to prevent an enormous build-up of active paper tasks, aim to follow the ‘2-minute rule’ and get as many of the quick jobs out of the way in one hit.
This might include signing a form, marking information about an upcoming event on your calendar, RSVPing to an event, making a quick phone call to confirm an appointment etc.
Other active papers will require more time to deal with, so a place to store them until you can get to these tasks is crucial to prevent paper piles building up.
The best spot to store them is in a Paper Inbox, that is either multi-sectioned or has categorised file folders to sort your paperwork until you can deal with them all in one sitting, ideally once a week.
(Learn the exactly process for dealing with these Daily Papers in Module 1 of Making Your Paper Work! >>)
3 | AUTOMATION
Tame some of that excess paperwork by automating as much as you can!
One of the biggest sources of stress and worry for many people is bill-paying, and the paperwork associated with it. Automating your finances as much as possible not only reduces that stress, it creates less paperwork and means you don’t have to remember the different bill due dates.
Here are 3 ways to automate your finances and reduce financial paper clutter:
1. Opt to receive bills and statements electronically rather than in paper form.
2. Set up EasyPay systems (also called ‘Recurring payments’; ‘Ezi-debit’ or ‘set and forget’).
With this system, instead of paying a varied amount on bills quarterly or monthly as you receive them, you will get a nominated amount deducted from your bank account each month. This amount is decided upon by the individual company by averaging your yearly spend.
You can set up this direct debit system for your gas, electricity, water, rates, home and car insurance etc. Rather than having to remember to pay monthly bills, you can get the same amount direct debited from your account each month. This is a great system if you tend to forget the due dates of your bills! (Learn more about this system here).
3. Track your payments. With the EasyPay system, you still want to know where and when your money is coming and going, so it’s a good idea to track your payments using a bill and due date tracker. Which is where the next strategy comes in…
4 | USE EASY REFERENCE SYSTEMS
Basically, a reference system is something that you can quickly and easily refer to, which contains the important information that you need regular access to.
In particular, if you struggle with losing important papers that you know you need to refer back to; or you are have a stack of papers on your kitchen counter that you don’t know what to do with, then easy reference binders are perfect for organising and categorising this important information.
Binders are a great way to store and organise all your essential information, with categories to hold essential information about your household, finances, children, medical details, pets, vehicles, warranties and manuals etc.
The two best systems to create are a household binder and finance binder. These two systems (whether you go paper or digital) allow you to access important information with ease, and keep track of the comings and goings of your household.
5 | GO PAPERLESS
When I refer to being a ‘paperless’ household, this means that instead of holding onto hard copies of your paperwork, you scan and save anything that needs to be kept for future reference in an organised digital system (my favourite being Evernote).
Having everything digitally stored creates a digital backlog (and peace of mind!), and means you won’t have to worry about those physical systems for paper you’re wanting to keep in the short term (like a binder system), or long term (in a filing cabinet or drawer).
Although going paperless does require a little more legwork upfront, it’s an easy system to maintain once you’ve got everything set up.
If You're Ready To:
- Reduce your stress and overwhelm levels around having to deal with your paperwork
- Learn exactly how and where to start with your paper organisation
- Gain back greater levels of calm, energy and quality time in your already busy life
- Follow a clear step-by-step plan to create easy-to-use and easy-to-manage systems
- Clear the paper clutter once and for all
Then my online program Making Your Paper Work is for you! This program is designed to help you sort through that pesky paperwork once and for all, so you can create more calm, balance and order in your life.